Outsourcing comes in many shapes and sizes. A new legal outsourcing website with a fresh approach has just launched. 

Lawsourcing.com is a web-based service started by two technology lawyers. It’s a legal-specific reverse auction market: lawyers in need of help – substantive or business – post a project description. Suppliers then bid for the work. Only licensed lawyers may bid on legal work; anyone may bid on other work.

This is an intriguing idea. In Inside vs. Outside: When Does it Make Sense for Law Firms to Outsource? (Law Practice Today, April 2006) I noted:

The core business of law firms is a combination of solving legal problems and helping clients cope with difficult situations. An old adage says that lawyers are finders (business getters), minders (relationship managers), or grinders (ones who crank out legal work). Today, lawyers who are great at “client hand holding” typically rely on a partner or associate to do the legal work. Could the minder instead outsource this to a lawyer in another organization? The point is that even in what many would consider the core business of law firms lie potential outsourcing opportunities.

So conceptually, the idea of outsourcing legal work makes sense to me. For the BigLaw skeptics, just remember that you essentially outsource local representation all the time! And for law departments, remember that many of you use lawyers from Axiom Legal. Though Lawsourcing may seem new, it strikes me more as an extension of existing trends.

That said, it will face challenges. I was involved in the early days of an online service for lawyers, Counsel Connect. And I have observed several online legal marketplaces over the years. The challenge is always to develop a critical mass, customers and suppliers in this instance. Lawsourcing looks well conceived but faces this usual challenge. With staying power and the right marketing, will Lawsourcing become the eBay of law?